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Pres­ident Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address last week that it’s time to “free our fam­ilies and busi­nesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.” But the pain per­sists. Gas prices have risen for 32 con­sec­utive days, an increase totaling 43 cents per gallon since Jan. 17, according to the Auto­mobile Asso­ci­ation of America. Now hov­ering around $3.73, prices show no signs of falling.

If Obama were serious about reducing costs for Amer­icans, he would abandon his lofty rhetoric about America’s green future and take con­crete steps to make energy more affordable by approving the Key­stone pipeline, easing reg­u­la­tions on shale-oil pro­duction, and reining in the Federal Reserve.

It’s not a foreign depen­dence problem. Blaming OPEC for high prices is a con­ve­nient political tool, and Pres­ident Jimmy Carter said in his malaise speech in 1979 that OPEC was “the direct cause” of long gas lines, inflation, and unem­ployment. And though it might always be polit­i­cally expe­dient to blame forces abroad, this isn’t a price gouging problem. OPEC pro­duction, though varied, has remained stagnant while its market share has declined since 1973. Non-OPEC coun­tries have more than doubled oil pro­duction during the same period to meet rising demand.

The primary arti­ficial restriction on market supply is Obama’s failure to enact policies that would expand U.S. pro­duction further. The Key­stone pipeline, which would create an esti­mated 20,000 jobs and produce roughly 830,000 barrels of oil per day if approved, has sat on Obama’s desk col­lecting dust for more than 1,600 days. Obama claims to support energy inde­pen­dence but prefers to pander to envi­ron­men­talists who want everyone to ride bikes to work. This will play poorly with the majority of Amer­icans as high prices linger and Key­stone lan­guishes.

Obama would like to take credit for the shale-oil boom that has lowered natural-gas prices, but he has done almost nothing to make it pos­sible. It has taken place despite the administration’s onerous reg­u­la­tions. In 2011, federal oil pro­duction fell 14 percent, the largest annual decline in ten years. New tech­nology such as hydraulic frac­turing pro­duces oil from pre­vi­ously untapped shale for­ma­tions. But Obama insists upon con­tinuing fruitless exper­i­ments with new energy sources instead of issuing more domestic oil pro­duction permits.

Taxes and reg­u­la­tions com­plicate the problem further. In Cal­i­fornia, gas has reached $5 per gallon. The sunny western state has become a jungle of red tape, and the Obama admin­is­tration should offer some relief before the rest of the country suffers the same con­se­quence.

But the gas price problem can’t be alle­viated without reeval­u­ating the hidden culprit in our midst, the cen­te­narian creature from Jekyll Island. The Federal Reserve, which Obama failed to mention even once in his entire State of the Union address, dis­torts the supply and demand for dollars, impacting the price of crude oil. Attempting to save the economy in 2008, the Fed mis­per­ceived a coun­ter­party risk problem for a liq­uidity problem, pumping cash into the market instead of facil­i­tating balance sheet trans­parency for banks. The Fed began loos­ening credit by low­ering the dis­count rate in late 2007. But by the time Lehman Brothers col­lapsed in Sept. 2008, the Federal Reserve decided the range of mon­etary tools it had become accus­tomed to using would be insuf­fi­cient to meet the size of the crisis caused by the sub-prime loan col­lapse.

The con­tin­u­ation of the quan­ti­tative easing that began in early 2009 has caused the value of the dollar to fall rel­ative to other cur­rencies since then, and encouraged investors to hedge against inflation by buying com­modities. The price of gold has risen more than 120 percent since 2009, and has become the uni­versal hedge against the falling dollar. The deval­u­ation of the dollar might have more to do with what we pay at Citgo than the way Saudi Arabia handles its resources.

In the early months of 2012, gas prices soared to more than $3.90, but leveled off by May. If sea­sonal fuel-grade pro­duction changes were to blame, perhaps a similar pattern will emerge this year. But the liq­uidity bubble the Fed has created may finally burst, meaning this rise in prices could be the first sign of a broad-scale inflation.

Though the largely unac­countable Federal Reserve tinkers with our economy at a high price, reforming it remains a long-term solution. But enacting sen­sible energy policy can happen today. Because in addition to enduring painful gas spikes, we’ve put up with Obama’s inaction for far too long as well.